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Hall County school system may cut salaries

Employees could see pay drop 2-3 percent

POSTED: March 28, 2009 12:09 a.m.

Hall County schools Superintendent Will Schofield informed system employees Friday they should brace for an estimated 2 percent to 3 percent salary cut next year because of state revenue shortfalls.

Schofield also told employees in a systemwide e-mail that the Hall County system guarantees teacher salaries according to the state’s minimum salary schedule, which is 90 percent of their total pay. The 2-3 percent salary cut could come in the local supplement portion of teacher salaries, which was 10 percent of teachers’ salaries according to 2008-09 contracts, he said.

The Hall County school board will determine the exact amount of the salary cut by the end of June, when next year’s budget is due, Schofield said. Paychecks of system workers who are not teachers also will be cut 2 percent to 3 percent. Schofield said he wanted to inform employees about the pending pay cut Friday before the school board discusses the issue at its work session Monday.

He said salaries and benefits make up 88 percent of the system’s budget, and that every 1 percent of systemwide salary cuts would save $1.8 million.

"We’re saying in the contract, ‘Of course we’re going to guarantee you the state minimum,’ and then what we’re saying as an aside is, ‘and hopefully very shortly we’re going to have enough information to tell you exactly what the local supplement is going to be,’ " Schofield said. "And we fully anticipate having a local supplement. We just don’t have enough information to tell you what that is going to be."

The superintendent said that if systems still are required to offer certified teacher contracts by April 15, or possibly May 15 pending legislative approval, they will be required to do so without "any concrete financial information from the state."

Schofield said the state schedule is unknown and unofficial until the General Assembly passes and the governor signs the state’s budget for fiscal year 2010, which begins July 1. He said barring a state furlough of teachers or the injection of large amounts of federal stimulus cash to the state budget, a 2 percent to 3 percent salary reduction may be necessary for the system’s fiscal year 2010 budget.

The legislature is scheduled to conclude its session next week.

Schofield said notification to certified employees, such as teachers, of an official compensation schedule would be made after the legislature and the Hall County school board adopt official 2009-10 budgets.

"Our intention is to keep salary schedules intact," he said. "Step raises and advanced degrees will be honored as always."

Schofield said a 2-3 percent reduction would mean that for every thousand dollars of annual pay, employees would experience a $10 reduction in gross annual compensation per percent of reduction. A teacher who earns $50,000 a year, for example, would take home $55 less monthly if a 2 percent salary reduction was enacted.

He said if or when the board determines the necessary amount of salary reduction, it will be applied across the board to the pay of all employees, including his own. In addition, Schofield said his salary will be cut an extra 1 percent.

"I apologize to our people. Nobody likes ambiguity. These are already uncertain times," he said. "But again, there’s limits to what boards of education have the authority to do. And committing themselves to spend money that they may or may not have is not within their authority."



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